May 23-26 World Finals, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
By Christine Wilbanks
Odyssey of the Mind (OoTM) promotes creative thinking by challenging teams to solve divergent problems. Through working together in teams, participants learn cooperation, the appreciation and understanding of others, and that a group is a more powerful thinking force than an individual. They develop a sense of self-respect and respect for others through preparatory activities such as brainstorming and role playing. The ultimate goal is for teams to present their problems’ solutions in official competitions. Teams work from October through May on their solution, presenting at regional, state, or even international competition from March through May 2016.
The responsibilities of the team members and their parents is far greater than other clubs and comparable to a sport. Students are expected to attend a weekly meeting through the fall and early winter and meetings will increase in the months leading up to competition in March. Meetings may happen in the evening or on weekends. Students will also be assigned projects (creating costumes,writing scripts, making props, etc.) and will need to obtain materials and complete them at home.Students must be both team players and able to work independently. Also important is that members of the team demonstrate a certain amount of maturity when working in groups.
Students must be available for all Saturday competition dates TBA. Participation on an OotM team is a rewarding experience for students and parents but it requires ahuge time and energy commitment. It is important to understand that students who are named toan OotM team cannot be replaced if they drop out, so the team will be negatively impacted for the year if a student decides to leave the team.
Odyssey of the Mind Team Parents & Guardians:
Yes, you, the ones who are driving the carpools, forking out money for snacks, waiting while the team cleans up after meeting, and generally watching from the sidelines while the team “gets creative.”
Did you know that you are the teams secret weapon for success? You are the “wind beneath the wings” of the team and coaches? You are a vital part of OoTM!
Did you child tell you that you may not help?
That is absolutely WRONG!
That is absolutely RIGHT!
So which is it?
BOTH! You may do things for them to help the team but there are also things that may want to do that would cost the team penalty points. So, how do you know the difference?
What parents CAN do:
- Transport the team to buy things
- Transport the props
- Teach the team members a skill, IF the team asks, such as:
- Principles of simple machines
- Help provide snacks
- Bring spontaneous problem supplies
What parents CANNOT do:
- Suggest what to buy
- Repair props if broken in shipping
- Suggest to the team which skills to use to solve a problem
- Suggest to the team which skills would result in a better looking or better functioning solution
- Give the team any ideas for their problem solution
- Sew anything, paint anything, do anything to contribute to the teams problem solution
- Analyze why something failed
- Expect perfection from a solution not done by adults (or from a solution done by adults for that matter!)
- Suggest what materials to use
- Fix anything that breaks
- Criticize any part of the teams solution
- Put emphasis on scores instead of fun
As you can tell, parents ARE important, as resources for learning skills, helping get materials, providing moral support, supplementing working brains with nourishment, and generally facilitating the logistics of a working team. Without your encouragement, your child will not develop the self confidence that Odyssey of the Mind promotes.
- What parents may not do is provide the dreaded “Outside Assistance” for which the team will receive penalties at the tournament. Just remember that all ideas for the long term problem solution, as well as the implementation of those ideas, must come from the team members.
- However, there is NO “Outside Assistance” in Spontaneous Problem Solving, so feel free to ask to assist the coaches, practice at home at the dinner table, and have fun with your family doing spontaneous problems with your children and other children.
Parents Responsibility on Tournament Day:
- Cheer your child and their team on!
- Volunteer to be a judge
- Volunteer to work concessions, pin sales, registration.
THANK YOU for your support, for your child, for his or her coaches, and for all the volunteers behind the continued success of OoTM!